I only just found out that this film, Shim Hyung-rae’s D-War, opened in the US this weekend. Until now I had not heard about it (even though it’s massive in South Korea). It looks like the best movie ever made.
Quick disclaimer: Canyon and I love the dragon. I love the dragon lots, Canyon loves the dragon lots and lots and lots. And yet, we are continually frustrated at the quality of dragon movies. Dragonslayer might be the best one yet, and that’s not saying much. It’s flat and humourless, though Phil Tippett’s Vermithrax Pejorative is a go-motion marvel. Dungeons and Dragons might be an excellent game, but the movie is an abomination, criminal for conducting a big finale dragon war in the background while the camera focuses on Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch throwing their careers and reputations on a bonfire. It’s so bad and yet I tried to record the straight-to-DVD sequel three weeks ago, saved only by the fact that our PVR memory was at a terrible low (as usual). Dragonheart is not quite as bad, and at least this time we get more dragon. The post-Jurassic Park effects on (::sigh::) Draco are very good, though having him voiced by Sean Connery is half-brilliant, half-lazy casting. Marks against it are the miscasting of Dennis Quaid (nothing against him, but he was not good in this) and the egregious amounts of Thewlis clogging up the action. His fey noncery is not exactly threatening, though he gets extra points for his Robert Plant hairdo. We’ve not yet seen Eragon, mostly because Irons + dragon = infinite suckage. It’s a rare thing, but I do sometimes learn a lesson from seeing bad movies.
While films get it mostly wrong, there are thankfully other media which flirt with dragonicity. Our beloved firebreathing reptiles are the only things that are going to make me break the bank to get a Playstation 3. The launch has been terribly mishandled, and there don’t seem to be any unmissable games (though Heavenly Sword looks pretty), but Lair features lots of dragon battles and might sway me, even though critical opinion is mixed. Who cares? It’s the closest I’m ever going to get to living out the events of Naomi Novik’s magnificent Temeraire series. If you’ve not yet read them, get the first three now and then get the fourth, Empire Of Ivory later this month. You will not regret it, especially if you even vaguely like either dragons or Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series.
So you can see I will see D-War even though it has been received very badly by critics. Plus, the director’s previous film, Yongarry, was widely hated. His response to the critical dismissal and subsequent public embracing of D-War is amusing. From Wikipedia:
The positive reaction among the Korean population is widely attributed to the film’s appeal to Korean nationalism. At the end of the film in its Korean print, director Shim delivers a message, “D-War and I will succeed in the world market without fail,” accompanied by the Korean folk anthem Arirang.
It somehow makes him sound like the Korean Uwe Boll, though Uwe Boll never appeared in a movie whose English title was Slap On The Cheek Several Times (Hyung-Rae was an actor before becoming a director). I don’t care. Anyone who has seen The Host knows Korean filmmakers know how to make good monster movies. Plus, it looks too awesome to comprehend, and sounds like a cross between Lord of the Rings, Gremlins, and Transformers. That’s got to be worth something. However, knowing my luck, it’ll actually be a cross between Hawk The Slayer, Ghoulies, and Transformers – The Movie starring Orson Welles.
Even so, how can you beat the cast? Yes, it stars Jason Behr apparently imitating Milo Ventimiglia, so that’s a strike against it, but besides him there’s Chris Mulkey, Robert Forster (Alligator was obviously a dry run for this film), and OMG, Craig Robinson aka Darryl from The Office! Suck on that, Krasinski! Fighting dragons beats working with Robin Williams and Mandy Moore.